he West German newsweekly Stern today fired the reporter who uncovered the fake Hitler diaries, and the magazine's publisher confirmed that the supplier was a Stuttgart dealer in Hitler memorabilia who claimed high-ranking East German connections.

At a press conference in his home in Hamburg, the sacked journalist, 51-year-old Gerd Heidemann, admitted that he was "hoodwinked" by the seller but insisted he should not be branded as the scapegoat for Stern's failure to authenticate the 62 volumes.

Heidemann refused to tell reporters how he obtained the bogus diaries but said he had given the supplier's name and address in West Germany to his employers.

Stern publisher Henri Nannen told reporters at a Bonn reception tonight that the seller's name was Konrad Fischer, who used the alias "Kujau."

In his dealings with Heidemann and other collectors of Nazi artifacts, Fischer claimed that he received the goods from a relative who served as a general in the East German Army.

"In fact, this so-called high-ranking officer turns out to be a railway station porter in East Germany," Nannen said.

Yesterday, Nannen filed suit for fraud against Heidemann and charged he had sought to pocket some of the money paid for the diaries.

Gerd Schulte-Hillen, chairman of the Stern publishing house, Gruner & Jahr, said the magazine paid a total of 9 million marks, or $3.75 million, for the fake diaries.

In his talk with newsmen today, Heidemann denied that he sought to enrich himself through the diaries.

His lawyer, Egon Geis, said Heidemann had paid the money in several installments to the supplier.

The paunchy, soft-spoken reporter said that the seller himself seemed convinced the diaries were genuine and that perhaps he, in turn, had been swindled by other people.

Heidemann said he delivered the 62 volumes over the course of two years and did not attempt to deceive his employers.

He also contradicted Stern's repeated claims that he refused to divulge the source of the diaries.

"The chief editors never asked me for the name," he said, adding that he told the name of his supplier to Schulte-Hillen 10 days ago.

"I told Stern the man's name. It turns out the man used a false name and Stern has discovered that," Heidemann said.

In Bonn tonight, Nannen said he personally surmised that East Germany originally planted the documents to sow political unrest in the West, but he gave no evidence to support the charge.

The key to the puzzle of the diaries, Konrad Fischer, or Kujau, dropped out of sight about three weeks ago, leaving behind a shuttered, locked storehouse of Nazi memorabilia in Stuttgart.

Several historians confirmed in interviews that in recent years, they had been offered Third Reich materials, including volumes of Hitler diaries, through a businessman-collector named Fritz Stiefel, who in turn acquired the artifacts through Fischer.

Heidemann is well known among traders on the Hitler "gray market" and for years has collected papers, paintings and artifacts from the Nazi era. Purchase of such memorabilia is legal in West Germany but public display is frowned upon.

Through these channels, Heidemann apparently encountered Fischer and his cluttered shop in Stuttgart.

Without naming his source for the diaries, Heidemann said today that the source "is certainly not the kind of person who would be at home in Nazi or neo-Nazi circles."

Stern has launched a four-man reporting team on a hectic search to discover the story behind the forgeries. But in Stuttgart, their inquiry has been blocked by the disappearance of Fischer, alias Kujau.

Prof. Eberhard Jaeckel, who has published a book on Hitler's writings, said in an interview he was offered a volume of Hitler diaries as early as 1980 by Fischer, who said there was a chance to acquire "many, many more."

Jaeckel said that Fischer cited his well-placed East German Stern Fires Hitler 'Diary' Reporter By William Drozdiak Washington Post Foreign Service

BONN, May 10--The West German newsweekly Stern today fired the reporter who uncovered the fake Hitler diaries, and the magazine's publisher confirmed that the supplier was a Stuttgart dealer in Hitler memorabilia who claimed high-ranking East German connections.

At a press conference in his home in Hamburg, the sacked journalist, 51-year-old Gerd Heidemann, admitted that he was "hoodwinked" by the seller but insisted he should not be branded as the scapegoat for Stern's failure to authenticate the 62 volumes.

Heidemann refused to tell reporters how he obtained the bogus diaries but said he had given the supplier's name and address in West Germany to his employers.

Stern publisher Henri Nannen told reporters at a Bonn reception tonight that the seller's name was Konrad Fischer, who used the alias "Kujau."

In his dealings with Heidemann and other collectors of Nazi artifacts, Fischer claimed that he received the goods from a relative who served as a general in the East German Army.

"In fact, this so-called high-ranking officer turns out to be a railway station porter in East Germany," Nannen said.

Yesterday, Nannen filed suit for fraud against Heidemann and charged he had sought to pocket some of the money paid for the diaries.

Gerd Schulte-Hillen, chairman of the Stern publishing house, Gruner & Jahr, said the magazine paid a total of 9 million marks, or $3.75 million, for the fake diaries.

In his talk with newsmen today, Heidemann denied that he sought to enrich himself through the diaries.

His lawyer, Egon Geis, said Heidemann had paid the money in several installments to the supplier.

The paunchy, soft-spoken reporter said that the seller himself seemed convinced the diaries were genuine and that perhaps he, in turn, had been swindled by other people.

Heidemann said he delivered the 62 volumes over the course of two years and did not attempt to deceive his employers.

He also contradicted Stern's repeated claims that he refused to divulge the source of the diaries.

"The chief editors never asked me for the name," he said, adding that he told the name of his supplier to Schulte-Hillen 10 days ago.

"I told Stern the man's name. It turns out the man used a false name and Stern has discovered that," Heidemann said.

In Bonn tonight, Nannen said he personally surmised that East Germany originally planted the documents to sow political unrest in the West, but he gave no evidence to support the charge.

The key to the puzzle of the diaries, Konrad Fischer, or Kujau, dropped out of sight about three weeks ago, leaving behind a shuttered, locked storehouse of Nazi memorabilia in Stuttgart.

Several historians confirmed in interviews that in recent years, they had been offered Third Reich materials, including volumes of Hitler diaries, through a businessman-collector named Fritz Stiefel, who in turn acquired the artifacts through Fischer.

Heidemann is well known among traders on the Hitler "gray market" and for years has collected papers, paintings and artifacts from the Nazi era. Purchase of such memorabilia is legal in West Germany but public display is frowned upon.

Through these channels, Heidemann apparently encountered Fischer and his cluttered shop in Stuttgart.

Without naming his source for the diaries, Heidemann said today that the source "is certainly not the kind of person who would be at home in Nazi or neo-Nazi circles."

Stern has launched a four-man reporting team on a hectic search to discover the story behind the forgeries. But in Stuttgart, their inquiry has been blocked by the disappearance of Fischer, alias Kujau.

Prof. Eberhard Jaeckel, who has published a book on Hitler's writings, said in an interview he was offered a volume of Hitler diaries as early as 1980 by Fischer, who said there was a chance to acquire "many, many more."

Jaeckel said that Fischer cited his well-placed East German relatives as the source for the materials, but warned him not to probe the link because "human lives were in danger."

Stern insists that Heidemann refused to reveal his source for the diaries for the same reason.

A reporter for the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Klaus Ulrich Moeller, said that Fischer, his companion, Erika Lieblang, and Heidemann met several times at the Holiday Inn in Ditzingen.

The purported East German connection to the Hitler diaries has aroused controversy since publication.

Prof. Werner Maser contends that a workshop in Potsdam is known to specialize in churning out Nazi artifacts that are sold in the West to earn hard currency.

But other historians dismiss such claims, saying no evidence has been advanced to prove that such a workshop exists. graphics/photo: GERD HEIDEMANN ...admits being "hoodwinked" relatives as the source for the materials, but warned him not to probe the link because "human lives were in danger."

Stern insists that Heidemann refused to reveal his source for the diaries for the same reason.

A reporter for the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Klaus Ulrich Moeller, said that Fischer, his companion, Erika Lieblang, and Heidemann met several times at the Holiday Inn in Ditzingen.

The purported East German connection to the Hitler diaries has aroused controversy since publication.

Prof. Werner Maser contends that a workshop in Potsdam is known to specialize in churning out Nazi artifacts that are sold in the West to earn hard currency.

But other historians dismiss such claims, saying no evidence has been advanced to prove that such a workshop exists.